I wanted to have a family and to be rich; but God told me, “your plans are good, but they won’t fulfill you.”
I am Father Carlos Alberto Jimenez Ortiz. I was born 32 years ago in Palermo-Huila, Colombia to a Catholic family of ten children. From childhood I had had two dreams. First, I wanted to be rich. Second, I wanted to have a big family with lots of children. I directed myself toward these two goals. However, I think the Lord took advantage of three events to show me the plan He had prepared for me from the beginning.
1. The first occasion was early in 2009 when my mother gave me a picture of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. On the back of the picture was a prayer asking for missionary vocations for the Church. I began to pray more.
2. In the middle of that same year my brother’s wife went to the doctor for a routine exam because she was pregnant with their third child. After the exam the doctor told her that she would have to abort the baby because it had multiple malformations. But my brother and sister-in-law, with the help of God, decided not to abort the child. They began to pray and frequent the sacraments and go on retreat. But this painful situation involved my whole family. We began to pray the family rosary and to go to confession more frequently. Now, after twelve years, I look back on those days and give thanks to God because this all brought us closer to God and my niece was cured.
3. At the beginning of 2010, one of my nieces surprised me by saying, “Uncle, would you like to be a priest?” I naturally said no. Some days passed and a friend that had been a seminarian insisted on the same idea. But as the idea of being a priest didn’t preoccupy me, I let it pass. Meanwhile, one of my sisters who knew of those other two incidences, said to me, “If God wants you to follow this path, another opportunity will appear.”
The opportunity arrived on February 20, 2010 when I was invited on a retreat. I participated enthusiastically. I went to confession and at the end of the confession the priest asked me, “Would you like to be a priest?” And I told him yes.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5).
While the missionaries were talking about their work in Peru, I was recalling the word of the prophet Isaiah, “’Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me’” (Is 6:8).
The priest invited me on another retreat preached by some missionaries from Peru. I accompanied the priest to pick them up at the airport. I was impressed by their joy and friendliness.
The priests presented the work of the Missionary Servants of the Poor and at the end one of them asked in a joking tone, “Who wants to come with us to Peru?” I said, “Me!” It’s been eleven years since that day and I can say that if that priest hadn’t made that joke, I wouldn’t be telling my vocational story.
My news about Peru was a surprise for my family as they knew my early dreams. However, they supported me and I went to Peru two weeks later.
In Peru I worked for a year and a half. It was a humanly and spiritually enriching experience. However, there were also difficult moments. After a week of missionary work, I wanted to return home but I said to myself, “Carlos, God needs you to help all the poor, how can you say no after having said yes?” After my beautiful experience in the Andes of Peru, I entered our House of Formation in 2011 and spent six beautiful years there and learned many things. In 2017 I finished my studies and made my perpetual vows. On August 18, 2019 I was ordained a priest.
Currently, I am in charge of the formation of the boys in the vocational center who are discerning a call from God. I commend myself to your prayers.